At first you roll your eyes at the notion: Eric Ripert, the charismatic and soft-spoken chef at Le Bernadin wielding a device that can detect radiation in the raw ingredients, especially the fish that are his specialty, at his upscale midtown Manhattan restaurant. His latest kitchen gadget acquisition is documented in this story from the New York Times. Gimmick, you might think, an irrational reaction to radioactive fears in a land too far away to affect American restaurants.
But the radioactive contamination is no longer confined to land, or even to the atmosphere. Millions of gallons of radioactive water have now been poured into the ocean. And while that is even tinier than the proverbial drop in a bucket, it can’t be ignored entirely. After all, we live in a global economy where chefs source their products daily from suppliers around the world. And even the chefs who get their ingredients from local suppliers need to be aware of where those suppliers sourced the products they sell.
And even with the most well-documented chain of origin, it’s an added comfort knowing the tuna didn’t make the detector click madly. After all, wouldn’t you feel better about ordering Gulf shrimp or oysters if someone could wave an oil-detecting wand over them and declare them BP free? And perhaps we could get a Geiger counter for mercury levels, as well.